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Simpana jumps to the front

42 man years of work and 18 months of development. That’s the amount of time and effort that CommVault put into its  Simpana 7.0 Software Suite announced on June 10th, according to Dave West, CommVault’s VP of Marketing and Business Development.

While it is encouraging to note that CommVault spent so much time on this release, it’s equally sobering to ponder that data protection upgrades now take this much time and effort to complete. But, based upon what enterprise customers have needed for the last 5 to 10 years, this is the first product that comes close to delivering on those requirements.

Consider this. Frank Albi, the President of Business Information Solutions, a records management provider in Cincinnati, OH, manages paper, tape and optical media. In this role, he often is asked to help his clients develop a records disposal policy. He can with a high degree of certainty deliver one for his client’s paper records. Not so with tape and optical media. He does not even know where to begin, because his clients can’t easily identify which files or records are on which media so how can he develop an appropriate disposal schedule for the media? So, customers end up keeping it all — resulting in higher data storage costs and unnecessarily exposing them to future legal discovery costs.

What is compelling about CommVault’s Simpana is that it opens the door to address this dilemma that Albi and many others face.

It combines backup and archive data into one common pool and, using its newly licensed FAST search engine, allows users to search, access and retrieve archived and backed up data stored in this new pool. Since they both use a common policy engine, Simpana can set retention and expiration schedules for any file in the pool. Simpana’s new Single Instance Store (SIS) feature only sweetens the deal since it eliminates redundant file copies, which also reduces the size of data stores and expedites backups.

Granted, to gain Simpana’s benefits administrators need to upgrade or install backup agents on servers — something I always looked forward to as an administrator. Not. But, as CommVault’s West points out, users can deploy them with push technologies. This may take some of the sting out of the deployment plus the value-add of shortened backups and conducting centralized enterprise searches into archives and backups should appeal to most organizations and offset whatever concerns they have.

CommVault’s Simpana also still lacks the breadth and scope of features that data protection products from Symantec NetBackup, EMC NetWorker and Tivoli Storage Manager offer. But, with disk a growing part of the backup equation and e-discovery a shadow over most companies’ future, the features that traditional data protection products offer may not carry the same weight they once did.

Bottom line, for companies willing and able to standardize on a single data protection product, CommVault has jumped to the head of the pack and is the one by which data protection products should now be measured. It can reduce the size of data stores, expedite backup and recoveries and search across multiple data stores. Plus, CommVault offers continuous data protection, email archiving and replication products that administrators can manage through the same policy engine — making Simpana without equal in the industry. CommVault’s Simpana 7.0 Software Suite sets the mark high for data protection and is a template that other data protection products will be hard-pressed to match.

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Obligatory on-topic question: Can commvault back up any systems other than windows? What platforms do they handle? The storage magazine website needs more areas for user interaction. Since there aren't, i'm posting this here. In particular I would like to give a nod to the "bare-metal recovery to migrate to VMware" article. The value of storage magazine would go way up if no less than 30% of the content was how-to stuff like this. I wouldn't expect more because I know the primary purpose of this and all trade publications is sales, but I would certainly read it more carefully if this were the case. I had an issue with trying to virtualize a windows server using a similar method. I tried to dd an original drive image into a vm disk, but I had an issue with windows boot 'remembering' the disk geometry of the original disk. I ended up having to use ghost to move it. I will have to look into the alt-boot steps in this article, it's seems to be just the thing. Anwyway, great article.
// Can commvault back up any systems other than windows? What platforms do they handle? // Yes, Linux, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, Netware... See the following for supported systems..